Tag Archives: gender

Taking back fight to reclaim boyhood

It’s been little over A year since I wrote Defending Boyhood, and yet the monstrous thing that passes for culture has posed a new threat to boys, one which even I could not have imagined. We now must endure drag queens at public libraries, reading stories to children about sexuality, inviting them into their puerile confusions. “How many kids here want to be drag queens when they grow up?” smiles the reader, the groomer. “Drag queens just want to spread love,” said the fellow who did his spiel of enticement at a library near our home. Spread it, deep and thick.

This phenomenon– the castration of boys who are persuaded they are “really” girls, and who are victims of evil and destructive suggestions; the encouragement of boys to dress as girls and dance for the pleasure of adults – reveal a contempt for healthy boyhood that is unexampled in human history. I do not claim girlhood is thriving, either, but I focus on what I know by experience. I was a boy once, after all.

Certain people hold a grudge against the ordinary male, with all his strengths and flaws. Men are held responsible, not accidentally but inexcusably, for all the world’s wickedness and suffering. Nor may you point to the commodities that men have produced in the modern world: the rich bounty of food, the electric power, the highways, the towering cities, the information signals whizzing through the air by the trillions every second. All those things stir up not gratitude, but resentment. Boys hear that their sex is worthless. They are to blame. The only boys permitted to take pride in their sex are those who have repudiated it or turned it to unnatural uses. The only good boy is a girl.

 In former times, a boy might be well instructed by a female teacher who could work with his boyish nature rather than smother it. That same boy had plenty of things to do outside school to train him for manhood. He went shooting with his father, to provide food for the table. He played rough outdoor games with other boys. He helped farm the land, mend the fences, tend the cattle, patch the roof, cut blocks of ice from the frozen lake; and the work built up not only his muscles, but his masculine outlook on the world and his duty in it. For most boys now, healthy work is a thing of the past, and so too are female schoolteachers who were wise in the ways of boys, and who loved them enough to know they could not make men out of them.

 Ordinary men must reclaim education of their sons, in its broadest sense. Your son’s imagination is deformed by what he reads in school. Do you think an hour of church on Sunday will wipe from his mind all the evil and sickly images he has been made to feed on all week? He has no skill in his hands. Who will impart skill to him – his teachers? He knows no cheerful and manly songs. He has no imaginative fight in him. He has never read Treasure Island. He does not know who George Patton or William Sherman were. Who will teach him about those great warriors – his feminist schoolteacher?

 I don’t want boyhood to be a political subject. The point is to get boys out of poisonous air and bring them back to healthy things that boys have always done. We are talking about nature: the nature of man, and the nature of the boy. There are some things that women cannot do and are not meant to do, and in our time women show themselves quite unwilling even to try. One of them is to lead boys to become men.

ANTHONY ESOLEN is a professor and writer-in-residence at Northeast Catholic College (Warner, NH). He is the author and translator of more than 20 books, including Defending Boyhood: How Building Forts, Reading Stories, Playing Ball, and Praying to God Can Change the World; Nostalgia: Going Home in a Homeless World; Out of the Ashes: Rebuilding American Culture; Ten Ways to Destroy the Imagination of Your Child; and Defending Marriage: Twelve Arguments for Sanity (St. Benedict Press)

Glimpsing the human cost of getting nature wrong

In February of the year, Ohio parents lost custody of their 17-year-old daughter because a judge ruled she should be allowed to receive therapy to identify as a boy.

Americans will see more cases like this as government officials align with transgender activists to promote a radical view of the human person and endorse entirely experimental medical procedures. At stake are not only parental rights, but the well-being of children who suffer from gender dysphoria.

Transgender activists maintain that when a child identifies as the opposite sex in a manner that is “consistent, persistent, and insistent,” the appropriate response is to support that identification. This requires a four-part protocol, as I painstakingly detail in my new book, When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.

First, a social transition: giving a child as young as three a new wardrobe, new name, new pronouns, and treating the child as a member of the opposite sex.

Second, puberty blockers to prevent the normal process of maturation and development. This means there is no progression of the pubertal stage, and a regression of sex characteristics that have already developed.

Third, around age 16, comes the administration of cross-sex hormones: Boys are given feminizing hormones such as estrogen, and girls are given masculinizing hormones such as testosterone. The purpose is to mimic the puberty process that would occur in the opposite sex.

Finally, at age 18, these individuals may undergo sex-reassignment surgery: amputation of primary and secondary sex characteristics and plastic surgery to create new sex characteristics.

Starting a young child on a process of “social transitioning” followed by puberty-blocking drugs was unthinkable not long ago, and treatment is still experimental. Puberty- blocking drugs are not FDA-approved for gender dysphoria, but physicians use them off-label for this purpose. No laws in the U.S. prohibit use of puberty blockers or cross-sex hormones for children, or regulate age at which they may be administered.

Normally, 80 to 95 percent of children will naturally grow out of any gender- identity conflicted stage. But all the children placed on puberty blockers in the Dutch clinic that pioneered their use persisted in a transgender identity, and went on to begin cross-sex hormone treatment.

This treatment protocol can interfere with the resolution of a gender- identity conflict. The rush of sex hormones and the natural bodily development during puberty may be the very things that help an adolescent actually identify with his or her biological sex.

And sadly, the medical evidence suggests that “transitioning” does not adequately address the mental health problems suffered by those identifying as transgender. Even when procedures are successful technically and cosmetically, and even in cultures relatively “trans-friendly,” people still face poor psychosocial outcomes.

A more cautious therapeutic approach begins by acknowledging the vast majority of children with a gender-identity conflict will outgrow it. An effective therapy looks into reasons for the child’s mistaken gender beliefs, and addresses the problems the child believes will be solved if his body is altered.

As I document in When Harry Became Sally, mental health professionals liken gender dysphoria to other dysphorias (serious discomfort with one’s body) such as anorexia. These tend to involve false assumptions or feelings that solidify into mistaken beliefs about oneself.

As a result, some mistakenly believe that a drastic body change will solve or minimize their psychosocial problems. But altering the body through hormones and surgery doesn’t fix the real problem, any more than liposuction cures anorexia nervosa.

The most helpful therapies do not try to remake the body to conform to misguided thoughts and feelings—which is impossible—but rather help people move toward accepting the reality of their bodily selves.

Biology isn’t bigotry. And there are human costs to getting human nature wrong.

RYAN T. ANDERSON, PH.D. (@ RyanTAnd) was a featured speaker at the Legatus 2018 Summit. He is the William E. Simon Senior Research Fellow at The Heritage Foundation and author of the book Truth Overruled: The Future of Marriage and Religious Freedom, and of the recently released When Harry Became Sally: Responding to the Transgender Moment.